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Mayor Martin Walsh delivers remarks at the State of the City event at Boston Symphony Hall. (Mayor’s Office Photo by Isabel Leon)

“We’re making great progress. But there’s plenty of room for improvement. The gaps that remain come in the shape of race, language, and need. Equity demands bold solutions.

“That’s why, this week, I will file legislation to finally eliminate the opportunity gap in early education, and, for the first time in Boston’s history, offer free, high-quality prekindergarten to every single 4-year-old in our city. Our proposal is funded by tourism taxes, already paid in Boston, that produce the annual surplus in the Convention Center Fund. It’s only fair that Boston’s success benefits all Boston’s children.”

Mayor Marty Walsh’s 2017 State of the City Address, January 17, 2017

The press release about the State of the City Address is posted here.

The Boston Globe’s article on the pre-K plan is here

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Photo Source: U.S. Department of Education

Photo Source: U.S. Department of Education

Message from Libby Doggett, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Early Learning, U.S. Department of Education, December 21, 2016

“I want to take this opportunity between the Thanksgiving and the New Year holidays — and near the end of my term at ED — to say THANKS. I myself am so thankful for each of you and the work you do every day to improve the lives of our nation’s youngest children and their families. Sometime this work is very rewarding. Funding falls in place and the implementors take off with few mistakes or problems. Other times this work can be frustrating: elected officials don’t see the value of programs for young children or refuse to find the funding in tight state or local budgets. Other times, those working to put programs in place hit one bump after another. But each of you trudge on through the good and bad times because we all know that we must fight for every child. If we miss helping an infant, the next year she is a toddler, then a three year old, and soon enters kindergarten behind her peers. The first five years fly by quickly, and we know the loss of opportunity may be irreversible if we don’t act.”

To read more, click here.

 

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

In a new policy brief, The Center on American Progress (CAP) is calling on governors to take executive action on early education.

“Governors can become early childhood leaders by setting a vision for early learning and adopting it as a key agenda item,” the center says.

Governors’ toolkits include executive orders, state agency directives, budget proposals, and working “with their legislatures to prioritize state investments in young children.”

Consider the story of former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt who had served for two terms. In the early 1990s, Hunt was out for a walk in the woods when he saw a small child near a poor shack trying to drink from an empty bottle. “This is the child we need to be helping,” Hunt recalls thinking in the book “The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics,” by University of California-Berkeley’s public policy professor David L. Kirp. The sight of this child made Hunt wonder how the state of North Carolina could help this child. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) had just released a report on child care — “Red Light Green Light: State Child Care Assistance Policies 2016” — that paints a picture of parents struggling to find affordable, appealing options for their children.

What families and the economy need is high-quality, reasonably priced child care that enables parents to work without worrying and that enrolls children in programs that are engaging and enriching.

Instead, the NWLC report describes a patchwork of child care policies and parents who don’t have enough help paying for high child care bills.

“The average fee for full-time care ranges from nearly $3,700 to over $17,000 a year, depending on the age of the child, the type of care, and where the family lives,” the report says.

“The implications are serious,” NWLC Co-President Nancy Duff Campbell explains in a press release. “Too many parents are forced to patch together makeshift arrangements for their children. Too many children are denied the high-quality child care they need to put them on a path to success. It’s past time to bring the country’s policies in line with the reality of American women’s lives and make high-quality child care accessible and affordable.” (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

Is universal pre-K worth the cost?

Yes, according to the national nonprofit Child Trends.

While research has found benefits in pre-K programs that focus on at-risk children, Child Trends has found new evidence about the benefits of universal pre-K programs that serve all children.

These findings are featured in a working paper released by Timothy Bartik at the Upjohn Institute, Jonathan A. Belford of Child Trends, Will T. Gormley of Georgetown University’s Center for Research on Children in the United States, and Sara Anderson from West Virginia University.

The focus of their analysis is Oklahoma. That’s where the Tulsa Public Schools’ universal pre-K program produces benefits — such as increased earnings and reduced crime — that “outweigh program costs by almost 2-to-1. That is, for every $1 spent on TPS universal pre-K, there is a societal gain of $1.89,” a Child Trends blog post explains(more…)

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Average cost of child care across the states. Screenshot: New America's website

Average cost of child care across the states. Image: New America’s website

What’s the state of child care in today’s America, which is no longer the land of the “Leave it to Beaver” breadwinner-homemaker family?

To find out, the newly released Care Report and the accompanying Care Index look at all 50 states and the district of Columbia to assess three categories: cost, quality, and availability.

The bad news: “no single state does well in all three categories. Instead, families, providers, and policymakers in every state make difficult compromises that often shape family decisions and can determine the course of children’s futures.”

That’s a problem in today’s America where “in a majority of families with children under 18, all parents work for pay outside the home. That means, on any given day, about 12 million children under the age of five will need a safe place to go and someone loving to care for them.”

The report and the index were produced by the think tank New America and by Care.com, the website that links families to care providers, in conjunction with other organizations. (more…)

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Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Photo: Caroline Silber for Strategies for Children

Early education policies are all over the map — literally and figuratively. While some states are making big investments in very young children, others lag behind.

How are specific states doing? The Ounce of Prevention Fund, a national advocacy organization, takes a look in its August 2016 State Policy Update. It’s a “mini-update” that “provides a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2016 legislative sessions as of July 2016.”

This year, “numerous states across the country made major policy changes and investments that advanced access to high-quality early learning programs,” The Ounce says, pointing to:

• Rhode Island, where “codified key elements of the state’s home visiting system” became law “through the passage of The Rhode Island Family Home Visiting Act. The state’s Department of Health is required to work with other state agencies to identify vulnerable families and offer them the opportunity to enroll in evidence-based home visiting programs.”

• In Nebraska, tax credits abound. “The School Readiness Tax Credit Act will create two new state tax credits… for early childhood programs and individual early childhood professionals in 2017.” (more…)

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